- Daniel Sillett
Putin's perspective: Why the Ukraine war is justified
By DANIEL SILLETT
A year ago, I cast my verdict on Putin’s decision to pull the trigger on Ukraine – an invasion that was meant to last three days. But the conflict still rages on.
Commentators argue that the war’s prolonging is absurd. The ‘lightning-fast’ operation has failed, Russia has lost about 200,000 men, and Putin will soon lose the confidence of his public. Russia is losing its grip – but nobody seems to have told Putin that, they say. And that’s the extent of their explanation for the continuation of the war in Ukraine. That’s it.
I’ve expressed my dislike of the media before, but apparently nobody writing for the national newspapers is reading Perspectives. Because nothing ever changes. Nobody seems to understand.
So, sack off the media and listen to me instead.
Doesn’t anybody realise that Putin’s actions are perfectly rational from his point of view? As is the central tenet of our magazine, understanding the motives behind the conflict is all about perspective. That’s yet another reason why media moguls should be reading what we write.
Put yourself in Putin’s shoes. You worked for your country during its prime with the Soviet Union. You saw the continuous battle with Uncle Sam each and every day; until, one day, your side lost everything.
You were there to see the Berlin Wall fall in Germany, with Westernism spreading across Germany like a bout of Covid’s Omicron variant. You saw the dissolution of your once-great country. You witnessed the birth of a feeble and lonely Russia, standing all alone in the playground after Ronald Reagan and his EU crew snatched away all of your mates. Your country, your Russia, was once the most popular kid on the block. Now, however, it’s Billy No-Mates.
How would that make you feel if that was your country? Depressed? Angry? Would you feel resentment towards the big bullies in the West who came and stole all your friends? I think so.
And let’s add some more spice to the recipe. Not only do Uncle Sam, French Fred and Jürgen Klinsmann steal your friends, but they start to step on your toes – rub you up the wrong way a bit, you know? It’s a case of one rule for them, one rule for you. They go and rugby tackle Kosovo, even though you said it was against the law. You go and tell the teacher at the UN Security Council, but they’ll hear none of it because America is their favourite student. So then you go and give a piece of your mind to Georgia in revenge, but apparently that’s not allowed and you get put in detention.
This is just a snippet of Russian-Western history. But from the Russian perspective, it hardly looks fair, does it? The Western gang are allowed to do whatever their hearts desire, but you can’t so much as wheedle a toe out of line. For those who have watched Clarkson’s Farm 2, it’s a bit like telling one farmer they can’t build a farm track when literally every other farmer could have built a space station if they wanted.
So, returning to Ukraine, is it any wonder that Putin wants his revenge? And surely it should come as no surprise that he feels perfectly justified to take back Russian-speaking republics in Ukraine. It’s the equivalent of the UK wanting to bring back a holidaymaker who’s been wrongly detained by the French police. It’s about bringing Russian people home. Putin sees this as a benevolent rescue mission.
More to the point, the area in question is in Russia’s backyard – in fact, it once was a very part of Russia’s mansion-style garden. So what right do America and the EU have in dictating what Putin can do with his property? The square root of zero, in Putin’s opinion. The West sending weapons to Ukraine is like an unentitled snooty neighbour – who isn’t even a close neighbour – stopping you from cutting your lawn by threatening to blow up your house.
In other words, it’s yet another case of what we can do, you cannot.
Western states have indeed been stretching their military legs across the globe for the best part of the 21st-century. It started with 9/11 prompting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has continued by sticking fingers in the pies of civil wars in Libya and Syria. Whenever there’s a war, Uncle Sam assumes an automatic right to get involved. America is like that irritating person who butts into any conversation.
The continued predominance of the Western order is starting to ruffle a few feathers in other parts of the globe, too, especially when there are the emerging BRICS economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Why should everything still be about the stars and the stripes, if it is in fact China who now has the biggest economy?
This is part of a much larger discourse about US hegemony, which is relevant but also digresses from the point. Yes, Putin is clearly bothered by America being the top dog. But he’s more bothered by the fact that, now and historically, Uncle Sam seems forever intent on singling out Russia as the deranged weirdo who you should avoid within a 100-mile radius.
With constant historical put-downs, exclusion and nicking the loyalty of all the former-Soviet states, it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Putin doesn’t want to give up on Ukraine. Because, if he did, that would be another nail in Russia’s coffin to be paraded through a laughing Western audience.
Just before I end, I should clarify that I don't support Putin. At all. But unlike some blind-sighted know-it-alls in the media, I can condemn the bloke and still empathise with where he’s coming from.